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article image350 ducks now dead after landing in Syncrude tailing pond

By Stephanie Dearing     Oct 27, 2010 in Environment
Fort Mcmurray - The number of ducks which have died after they flew into two tailing ponds owned by Syncrude Monday has risen to 350. Syncrude had originally said around 200 ducks had landed in the tailings pond.
On Tuesday, 230 ducks had been put down. In a statement issued Tuesday, Syncrude said it estimated about 200 ducks had run into trouble in its tailing ponds, Mildred Lake and Aurora. Business Review Canada reported Wednesday that all the birds were "heavily covered in oil."
Syncrude has reportedly announced the new deaths, said CBC News, but the oil giant has not posted any new statements on its website. Not all the ducks were euthanized, reported the Edmonton Journal. Syncrude is said to be still searching Mildred Lake for dead ducks, belying the corporation's claim to have had personnel out on its tailing ponds Monday, preventing further duck deaths.
Greenpeace blasted Syncrude in a comment provided to the Edmonton Journal "Syncrude's claim that the latest round of duck deaths is due to freezing rain is completely unacceptable. Alberta's weather changes all the time — if tar sands companies can't ensure the safety of birds, animals and humans regardless of the weather, then they should be shut down until they can. We can't simply wait for another weather event to see what the next impact and death toll will be.
Eliminating these toxic lakes is the only way to ensure the safety of birds, animals and humans that are currently being poisoned by these sprawling toxic lakes that now cover more than 170 square kilometres of our province."
Greenpeace's Mike Hudema posted this comment on Twitter Tuesday, "The thought of ducks too tired to fly further in freezing rain and landing in a toxic pond is a very sad one."
The Pembina Institute said the issue is that there are 170 square kilometers of toxic tailing ponds in the area. Writing for Pembina, Jennifer Grant said the crux of the issue was that rules put in place to protect wildlife from the oil sands developments have not been enforced. "... Unfortunately, as this past week's events have clearly shown, we can't rely on provincial and federal laws or the new regulations to prevent tailings lakes from posing a lethal danger to birds — let alone seeping waste and posing long-term reclamation risks.
The only surefire solution to dealing with the tailings issue is to prohibit the production of new tailings waste altogether, while cleaning up the old. Premier Ed Stelmach has the right idea about eliminating tailings ponds — we urge him to back up his statements with non-negotiable, enforceable and binding rules."
Facing a major backlash for the new duck tragedies, Syncrude is asking for scientific help to prevent any further duck deaths reported CTV Winnipeg.
The latest deaths have taken place only days after Syncrude made world news headlines for being fined over $3 million for the deaths of nearly 2,000 ducks two years ago. Upon hearing the ruling, Ecojustice had reported "Conservation groups rejoiced Friday over a historic $3-million creative sentence handed to Syncrude Canada." Several conservation organizations were to benefit from the Syncrude sentence, which also saw $1.3 million going to the University of Alberta for studies on migratory birds and tailing ponds. Ecojustice, which pursued charges against Syncrude for the deaths of nearly 2,000 ducks in 2008, has not made any statements about this most recent incident.
Suncor said 40 ducks that landed on one of its tailing ponds Monday had been lost. Suncor posted a statement late Tuesday blaming the occurrence of ducks on its tailing pond as attributable to weather, while explaining employees had found "a small number" of ducks on a tailings pond, all of which were euthanized.
Shell also issued a statement late Tuesday, saying ducks had landed on one of its tailing ponds, however, the corporation has only said "two oiled ducks" had been seen on a tailings pond. According to the corporation, staff were not able to capture those ducks. Two other ducks, both dead, were found on the property, but not in the tailing pond.
More about Syncrude tailing pond, Syncrude, Dead ducks, Oil sands, Tar sands
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